Help for ex-cons
Jane Tresedor is putting her fashion nous to use in an unexpected way.
She is the founder of the Fix Up, Look Sharp, a non-profit fashion styling service to help men fresh out of jail look good for job interviews.
Prisoners are generally the most disadvantaged in the world of unemployment, Tresedor says.
"Stigmas make it difficult for them to get work. And they've been told what to do for so long, they've lost touch with their independence.
"It is all about empowering these guys, giving them a new experience, and motivating them to go on job interviews," she says.
The idea for Fix Up, Look Sharp was born out of the Mt Eden resident's experience in the fashion industry and social work.
She started her career at 19 working for high-end New Zealand fashion label World and ended up managing the brand's first menswear store in Auckland.
The 32-year-old was also a Youthline phone counsellor and in 2008 she decided that social work was really what she wanted to do.
Being involved with organisations like the Women's Refuge showed her the other side of life but she kept a hand in retail while she saved for her OE.
"During the day I would help people with plenty of money and afterwards I would help people with no money or clothes," Miss Tresedor says.
"It was both sides of life." She started the organisation after visiting Dress For Success - a charity that provides women with clothes for job interviews. "I suddenly thought ‘oh my God, there is nothing for men'."
Fix Up, Look Sharp's pilot programme was run at the end of last year out of World's former Deluxe store on High St.
Five ex-prisoners got the royal treatment.
"These people wouldn't normally walk into a high-end fashion store and get styled. It's an unusual experience for a lot of them," she says.
The pilot programme was a success and some of her clients are now in steady jobs. Tresedor didn't specifically envisage Fix Up, Look Sharp being a prisoner-focused service but she is glad it's worked out that way. She has teamed up with PARS, formerly known as The Prisoners Aid and Rehabilitation Society, which supports inmates with their reintegration to the community after their release.
Her next step will be finding a permanent base for Fix Up, Look Sharp and she will then start asking the community for donations of clothing.
- Central Leader